CJS: From Newsreel to Posttraumatic Films – Classic Documentary Films about Auschwitz-Birkenau


Thursday, November 10, 2016, 4:15pm to 6:00pm


Adolphus Busch Hall, Lower Level Conference Room, 27 Kirkland Street, Cambridge

Jews in Modern Europe Study Group

Tomasz Łysak – Fulbright Visiting Lecturer of Polish Studies, University of Washington, Seattle; Assistant Professor, University of Warsaw, Poland


Auschwitz-Birkenau became a postwar synonym for industrialized genocide, described, for example, as “the capital of the Holocaust.” There is an interesting shift in the visual conventions of rendering the operation of the camp, its history and moral import. Soviet and Polish filmmakers contributed to the conceptualization of the “:concentrationary universe” and industrial genocide as a modernist event, and they established cinematographic conventions of Holocaust documentary. Films discussed span the period from the liberation of the camp through the 1960s, and include liberation footage recorded by the Red Army as well as Polish Film Chronicle, Alain Resnais's Night and Fog(1955), Andrzej Brzozowski's Archeology (1967) and Tadeusz Jaworski's I was a Kapo(1963). This selection sheds light on the aesthetic choices and respective film genres: newsreel, posttraumatic film, scientific film, and testimony.